We move less, is it because of the corona?

The figures are somewhat disappointing: more than half of all Dutch people do not exercise enough. Last year, 47 percent of all Dutch people aged four and over complied with the guidelines drawn up by the Health Council five years ago.

These guidelines require adults to exercise at least 150 minutes a week with moderate intensity, such as walking and cycling, or to exercise vigorously, such as in sports, and participate in “muscle or bone strengthening activities” at least twice a week, such as climbing stairs. , strength training or jumping rope.

A year earlier, in 2020, the percentage of Dutch people who met these guidelines was slightly higher, according to research from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) with RIVM, for which people filled out questionnaires. Children aged four to twelve have started exercising a little more, mainly because they have played more outside and gone to school. And people over 75 are also starting to walk more.


On the other hand, teenagers again failed to comply with the guidelines, with only 36 percent of young people aged 12 to 18 years meeting the guideline. “Young people are hanging out on the couch,” says chief sociologist Tanja Traag from CBS. People between the ages of 18 and 35 also moved less last year; especially they cycled less to work and in their free time.

Also read: Humans are created to move

You might think that corona measures played a role. CBS leaves it in the middle. But Bas van den Putte, professor of health communication at the University of Amsterdam, points out that parents in young families in particular often worked from home and did not cycle to work. In their spare time, tired of the presence of children at home, they did not go to sports or cycling. “They did not have the energy for that anymore.”

Eco de Geus also does not rule out a connection with the corona. “American research suggests that it does,” says the professor of behavioral and exercise science at the VU University in Amsterdam, who is also chairman of the Health Council’s committee that drafted the training guide in 2017.

The degree of movement is unevenly distributed and depends, say experts, on your socio-economic position. Higher-educated people exercise 10 percent more than low-educated people, and Eco de Geus notes that this difference can also be seen between natives and Dutch people with non-Western backgrounds.

Rich people live healthier than poor people, says Willem van Mechelen, professor emeritus of social medicine and former sports teacher. “Context drives health behaviors,” he says. “Healthy living costs money. Healthy food costs more than unhealthy food.” “In addition, your tendency to move is determined by your environment. Is it normal to go cycling? Or is it deviant behavior in your environment?”

Free sports every day

According to Van Mechelen, the fact increases that social norms in advertisements and campaigns prescribe that exercise is ‘good’, in fact ‘knowledge’ and elevates people’s ‘attitude’, but to get people to move is ‘targeted’. measures’ are necessary. necessary. Let the young people train for free every day. Or make sure that your employees, who live five kilometers away, let the pedals on their bike rotate themselves and do not take an electric bike. ”

Professor Bas van den Putte also advocates this. “Make movement possible and above all easy. Make exercise accessible, inexpensive and make sure people can do it together.” This strategy is all the more necessary because people naturally tend not to exercise and save their energy. “In principle, people prefer to take the elevator than the stairs,” says Willem van Mechelen.

As a government, one should not be too quick to say that sport is ‘fun’, says Professor De Geus. “Some people have a talent for sports, others do not. If you promise that it’s fun to train, and that promise does not come true, if, for example, they only hang out a little while running in a group, then they say: never mind. Do not say that exercise is fun, but that it is good for your health. ”

also read this opinion article from neuropsychologist Erik Scherder: Exercise during working hours – also better for the boss

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